In my job, I spend a lot of time discouraging kids from running. This is interesting, since there are also periods when I encourage them to pick up the pace. That's the part where I am often found actively herding groups of children as I run alongside them. Then, about the time I get them all moving around a prescribed course described by a series of colorful cones, I ask them to stop and hold still. Then, after a more prescribed movements, I have them all get into that most impossible of formations: a straight line. After that transition has been managed to the mild expectations of elementary school, I ask them to walk back to their class. Walk, run, stand still, walk again. All that coiled energy being told to start, stop, speed up slow down. It can be a little crazy-making. I like to remind my young charges that they have no reason to run, especially since we have all these assigned desks and alternative seats for when those places get full. Sitting still really isn't in the cards, unless we had asked them to run around like crazy people, in which case stillness is a likely reaction to all that authority.
Truth is, I don't get the whole walking thing myself. When someone suggests that we take a walk, it feels like I'm in trouble. This is probably exacerbated by all the times since I was a youngster that these walks brought news, and not the happy kind that ended up with ice cream or trips to the zoo. The walk allows a slow reveal, a calm place with a calm pace. This is how we learn about pets that aren't coming back or girlfriends who would like to take this opportunity to say we should just be good friends. These little walks usually have the effect of making me want to run away.
Which is probably why I continue, decades later, to run for my health. I don't stop to chat. I just keep running. Forrest Gump would be proud. And yet, there are still times when polite society and its conventions encourage me to take it down a notch. My wife likes to go for walks. With me. And I try not to imagine what sort of bad news might come my way as we take these leisurely strolls in the park, or down by the ocean, or through our neighborhood. Mostly it's just the day to day business and pleasantries of a relationship that has been going on since about the time I started running. For my health. So I go along, taking my cues from those around me. Walk. Don't walk. Run.